Oakleigh South ELC, A year forward with CLT - March 2019

A year on from being nominated and eventually winning the Master Builders Victoria 2018 Best Sustainability Project award, there seems like no better time to reflect on the Oakleigh South Early Learning Centre, the way in which it was constructed, the functionality of the centre and the overall benefits that the CLT has offered, especially coming out of what has been a summer season with above average temperate in Melbourne.

Cross Laminate Timber, better known as CLT is a layered system of timber panels glued and pressed together to create a pre-fabricated style panel suitable for many applications including not only the structural elements of a building, but also internal walls, ceilings and even floors. CLT can be thought of simply as plywood with much thicker layers offering much higher structural integrity, thermal efficiency and fire protection.

CLT panels are produced by layering timber sheets of thickness’ usually between 30mm and 50mm in an alternating perpendicular a top of the next. A glue is applied between each layer covering the entirety of the panels then the panel as a whole is pressed until the glue sets. The panel is then trimmed and checked for neatness, square and any other requirements of the panel which can have a total thickness usually of anywhere between 87mm to 315mm. It sounds basic, however the end result is a panel not dissimilar to a concrete pre-cast panel, just without the weight and made from renewable materials both proving to have huge bonus’ in usability and sustainability.

Having a pre-cast panel construction method can be more expensive in material costs than traditional building methods, obviously there is much more involved with the preparation and co-ordination of producing each panel correctly for the project as opposed to measuring and cutting individual studs and noggins on-site. On the other hand, the benefits really show when it comes to installation time and the cost implications of a more expensive material are quickly resolved by way of labour costs savings. To put this into perspective, the Oakleigh South centre went from a bare concrete slab, to an erected building with all walls and ceiling panels in under 9 days.

The process starts with a perfectly laid out track system on the concrete slab, no doubt the most difficult aspect of the process due to its need to be 100% accurate for the panels to fit together on. This is where the remainder of the project really accelerates. Truck load after truck load of panels arrive and a team of 4 to 5 people assist a crane in placing each panel down onto the track system and fix everything together, it all happens amazingly quickly.

A regular internal fit out obviously still needs to occur, along with external cladding, windows, doors, roof and the services. However, the fact that what is effectively the framing and structural elements can be completed in this case in 9 days, opposed to months, pulls the project ahead of schedule by leaps and bounds. The time for fit out is also reduced as depending on the level of finish desired, CLT can be left completely bare and exposed, as was done for the majority of the Oakleigh South centre. The finish is great for childcare, being tough enough to withstand bumps from toys and furniture, washable and also having a fantastic natural and very interesting look to it. Not something you can always say about painted plasterboard on a stud wall as I’m sure staff and parents alike agree.

Being a structural and load bearing material, the centre directors have also found the ease of use with being able to directly fix interactive whiteboards, hooks and shelving to anywhere they desire within the group activity rooms without the need to locate internal wall studs.

What does this mean for efficiency? What is the first thing you do when you arrive home on a 30 plus degree day in Melbourne? Turn the air conditioning on of course, well that’s not always the case at Oakleigh South ELC. Despite having installed some of the most energy efficient air conditioners on the market, they are sometimes simply not needed. The thickness and laminated nature of the CLT give the product huge thermal efficiency properties, keeping the internal areas of the building cool in summer and warm in winter. Of course being childcare, the building is often left open to the external play areas during the day which can lead to temperature changes, however once the air conditioning does its job to sort that out, the building can retain temperatures internally with ease for hours or days on end.

This goes without saying, the sound travel within the centre is non-existent. To be within a childcare centre and listen to a teacher read a book with perfect silence in one room to the children with no background noise, then walk into the neighbouring room to have the kids in the middle of a music lesson is a testament in itself to the acoustic nature of this product.

Its these reasons why the building has been considered by staff, parents and children as a fantastically functioning centre while being incredibly visually appealing and why it has also been awarded the 2018 Best Sustainability Project by Master Builders Victoria. It goes without saying that CLT is a perfect candidate for Veuve Property Group and Hume Childcare to use on their forthcoming Heathmont Early Learning Centre project.


Oakleigh South wins Best Sustainable Project - August 2018

The early learning centre at Oakleigh South developed by the Hume Childcare Trust and built by Atelier Projects Pty Ltd has won the Best Sustainable Project Award at the Master Builders Victoria 2018 Excellence in Construction awards.

The Oakleigh South centre is the first childcare centre in Victoria to be built using cross laminated timber (CLT) panels and was designed by Hume Childcare Trust in conjunction with Insite Architects.



Veuve Education Trust sells 9 developments to Arena REIT – July 2017

Arena REIT has announced to the ASX that it has acquired a portfolio of nine early learning centre properties under development for a total cost of $65 including transaction costs. The portfolio was acquired from Veuve Education Trust for $63.3m reflecting a yield of 6.3%. The transaction will see Arena REIT acquire the portfolio on a fund through basis which involves the acquisition of land and then the progressive payment of development costs to Veuve Education Trust.

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Veuve Property Group and Hume Childcare to construct Australias first CLT Childcare Centre - February 2017

The proposed 139 place Childcare Centre at Oakleigh South will be constructed from a pre-fabricated style of timber saving large amounts of construction time while also being hugely energy efficient. The centre will be the first of its kind constructed from CLT (cross laminate timber) and is sure to be a real talking point of parents and the community alike.

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